A few years back, Dirk Spiers sat as a panelist at an Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) conference where he discussed the disconnect between electric vehicles and the dealership industry. Four years later, Spiers believes the disconnect still exists, and hasn’t been mended in the slightest.
“I’m shocked and disappointed,” says Spiers, CEO of Spiers New Technologies, a full-service provider for battery life management, who works directly with OEMs that dabble in the electric vehicle industry. When an electric vehicle’s battery malfunctions or is ready to be replaced, the company receives orders directly from the OEM.
“Sometimes I’ll go to a dealership for fun and they’ll always lie about the range of the electric vehicle and how it performs,” he says.
According to an “Electric Vehicle (EV) Sales Experience and Best Practice Study” put on by Ipsos RDA, electric vehicles do not take center stage at the dealership. Spiers can attest to the study as he frequently visits dealerships to understand how knowledgeable staff members are of electric vehicles.
Although some dealerships have taken the initiative of moving toward electric vehicles, Spiers answers three recurring questions he’s seen rise among dealerships regarding electric vehicles.
“Why should I get involved with electric vehicles when they’re never going to happen?”
Insight: Electric vehicles are here to stay.
It’s no longer a matter of if, but when, with electric vehicles. According to analysts at Morgan Stanley, electric vehicle sales are “expected to surpass those of traditional vehicles by 2038, while the global fleet of EVs is expected to surpass one billion by 2047.”
“You cannot stop the future,” Spiers says. “It’s going to happen one way or another.”
For him, staying away from electric vehicles is similar to renting VCR tapes at the local Blockbuster store—you either adapt to change or lose out altogether.
“You used to go to the Blockbuster to rent a movie for the night and now it’s Netflix,” Spiers says. “You cannot stop progress, so the choice you have to make is [either] you embrace progress and you prosper, or if you try to resist, you will be steamrolled.”
By embracing electric vehicles, the dealership can position itself ahead of the curve and offer a cutting-edge product.
“Where do I look to become more educated on electric vehicles?
Insight: Look to the OEM if you’re interested in bringing electric vehicles aboard.
With today’s available resources, it’s just a matter of getting your hands on the right material to better understand what electric vehicles offer. According to Spiers, dealerships can become more educated about electric vehicles through OEMs.
“The first bunch of information [dealerships] should come from the OEM,” Spiers says.
In addition, Spiers recommends doing additional research to become more educated.
“Magazines like CHARGED [provide] a wealth of information on electric vehicles [and] specialize in electric vehicles,” Spiers says.
By gaining knowledge in the industry, it can help better prepare the dealership for ways to divvy out new roles in the business.
“How do I get service back if customers are not coming in for routine maintenance?”
Insight: While electric vehicles require far less maintenance, there are other opportunities with electric vehicles from which a service department can profit.
Electric vehicles are unique in the sense that they require less maintenance than what is typically required for vehicles. While electric vehicles do not require typical service work such as oil changes, they do require other service opportunities.
“Everything made from humans breaks down time to time,” Spiers says. “The majority of the OEMs use our services.”
He works directly with OEMs once a customer needs a battery replacement. In addition to replacing a battery, Spiers says other markets such as charging stations and solar can help build revenue taken from traditional maintenance repairs.
In order to keep an electric vehicle running, the car must have an adequate charge. According to Spiers, dealerships can invest in implementing a charging station in order to gain more customers.
“Charging stations would simplify your business,” Spiers says. “Look at what Tesla is doing.”
According to the Tesla website, vehicle owners have access to “global charging networks,” where they can locate nearby charging stations and pay a fee to use. With 1,386 Supercharger Stations worldwide, customers can drop by as often as needed.